Authors: Do You Have the Perfect Pitch?

by | Oct 12, 2016

This October, I will host my 6th annual Authors Tea … a Saturday afternoon where up to 15 authors get the opportunity to pitch their books in 60 seconds or less to approximately 100+ book-buying attendees-my invited friends and all the author’s friends that they have invited as well.

It’s a standup and sit down tea with the usual food spread one would find at a High Tea—a variety of yummy desserts plus mini sandwiches and cheeses in my home as the setting. And, of course, a variety of teas to choose from. The energy is always fun (last year’s was on Halloween afternoon and many of the authors showed up in costume), networking and schmoozing. Lots of books are sold … bringing gifts to brother Charlie, Aunt Sue, kids, best friends and for self. All ages and genders are welcome.

The authors get the book sales and pay me $25 to participate to cover some of the food costs. I view it as a book marketing coop … one of the strings attached to being a featured author is not only paying for the slot but also committing to bring at least four guests there as well. As I’ve told my participants, “It doesn’t matter if your guests already own your book …” In fact, if they do own it, they become cheerleaders for you—your SuperFans—telling other guests how wonderful your book is—the fabulous “word of mouth” marketing in action.

From the get-go, featured authors are told to keep their pitch short—the shorter, the better. It’s always a challenge. Keep in mind: when anyone rambles, listeners ears start closing. Savvy authors who want to sell books learn how to pitch—with a hook that gets the listener to think, to say … “tell me more”. That “tell me more” could be in an open Q&A and in the case of the Authors Tea, it becomes the opportunity to talk directly with the author in an environment that is comfortable and casual.

Can You Pitch?

I give my Tea authors 60 seconds to pitch, to start the connection process. Since I usually have a new book each year, I’m one of the pitchers—I can do it in 10 seconds. What about you?

When someone asks you what your book is about, can you clearly and concisely say it in 15 seconds or less? Most authors fail miserably at this essential task. When his or her mouth opens, words flow … and flow … and flow. Sometimes, they can become an endless river. They ramble on about:

  • the background
  • why the book was written
  • who the characters are and what they do
  • how the book solves all the problems of the disease
  • the situation
  • the “you name it”

The concept of being “concise” doesn’t register in the response.

The Importance of the Pitch

Around you are the voices of thousands of people competing for space in your buyer and reader’s head. Learn how to get your voice, your expertise, and your book, heard above the clatter and racket of the book crowd.

You want your pitch to create one response from the listener. Tell me more. The listener may think it; he or she may say it. Your pitch needs to elicit it.

Acquiring the skills for pitching yourself and your book, you will discover that the results adapt to publicity and marketing, as well as the direct book buyer and anyone else who lands in your path.

Within your pitch, use one or more of these elements:

  1. Your words should create an instant visual.
  2. Your words need to be succinct.
  3. Your words can be quirky and fun.
  4. Your words can include something familiar.
  5. Your words can have a rhyme meter and rhythm to them.
  6. Your words can use alliteration.

Authors are notorious when it comes to talking about their books … or trying to describe what their books are about. The savvy author knows how to pitch, and hook the listener quickly and succinctly. The result? “Tell me more about …” becomes the response—the author has thrown the lure out—the portal is now open to engage the potential reader/book buyer and reel him or her in.

The result: you will sell books. I guarantee it.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Patricia

    Sounds wonderful, the rub here is my book ‘The Italian Thing’ a hilarious memoir is not available in paperback, only Kindle. Although I would have a pitch, I wouldn’t have a stack of book to sell. :o)
    Great and informative post.

  2. Scott

    A Thesis Statement should provide everything. That should be written and understood before the book is written.

  3. Theresa Boedeker

    Great article. You got me thinking of my pitch for my new podcast. Now next time I am asked what it is about I have a pitch. Now I need to practice it so it comes off the tongue without thinking.

    • judith briles

      In reality, “pitch” is what we do all the time–most just don’t think of when we present ourselves, our ideas, our positions … you name it … pitch and influence are tied together. When something is important, the ability to “pitch” it clearly and quickly that connects with the listener will deliver. Good luck with your podcast Theresa. Judith

  4. valorie grace hallinan

    Joel, for quite some time now I have been enjoying your advice and information. Really, you are one of the best out there. This post in particular is so helpful at the moment as I prepare to go to a memoir conference and practice pitching my memoir. I’ve never seen those 6 suggestions for a memoir, and they are genius, I can’t wait to work one or two of them into my pitch. Thank you. Certainly wish I could come to your tea, I love high tea!

      • judith briles

        Hello Valerie … Having delivered workshops to thousands at writing and publishing conferences, it has never ceased to amaze me, and pain me, how so many stumble on this critical element in the author success quotient. Once learned, practiced and put in the “habit” lane, it will make a huge difference. Good luck!

        Wish you were here in the Denver area … would love to have you at my annual Author Tea. Judith

        • valorie grace hallinan

          Judith, I didn’t notice that you had written this post, not Joel – you both are fantastic, and I subscribed to your blog and newsletter. I find your videos so inspiring and well done!

          • Judith Briles

            Thank you, thank you Valorie. Suggest you put a hold on the dates of Sept 7-9, 2017 … it’s the that I do each year. An amazing 3 days for author and publishing success. Would love to meet you in person. Judith

  5. judith briles

    For subtitle, not necessarily … Why are you pitching all 3 books in one swoop? If it’s a series, pitch the series … or focus on the latest book. The objective of the pitch is to create a “Tell me more …” response from listener … then you can get into your other books. Judith

  6. Mike

    Where will it be held?

    • judith briles

      Hello Mike … my base–Denver CO … info is posted on the site under Events. Judith

  7. Ernie Zelinski

    You state, “I can do it in 10 seconds. What about you?”

    Shouldn’t your book title and subtitle be the best pitch that you can come up with?

    If it is, then I can do it in 10 seconds too — for at least three of my books.



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